The first U.S. Consulate in Afghanistan was opened in the western city of Herat on Wednesday.
In his address to senior Afghan officials, civil society representatives, business leaders, and Consulate staff, after opening the diplomatic office, Deputy Secretary of State Bill Burns described Herat as a city with a rich cultural history and tremendous economic potential, and a vital place for a United States diplomatic presence. The Consulate, he said, reaffirmed the long-term commitment of the United States to Afghanistan's success and the "indelible bonds of friendship between our people."
The ceremony was attended by Herat Governor Saba, Farah Governor Khpalwak, and Badghis Deputy Governor Sabiri—representing three of the four provinces comprising the Herat Consular district. The U.S. diplomat expressed special appreciation to Governor Saba for his staunch support for a U.S. diplomatic presence in Herat.
The Consulate facility had opened on March 12 after almost two years of restorations. The ceremony recognized Afghan contributions to the renovated building. An average of 70 skilled Afghan craftsmen and carpenters worked on the project each day and substantial local products were used. Original artworks by Herat University students and faculty and photos of Herat by David Hume Kennerly are on display in the Consulate foyer.
Herat is the third largest Afghan city having an international airport. As the gateway to Iran, it collects the highest amount of Customs revenue for Afghanistan.
Opening of a Consulate in Herat will help people in the south-western part of the country avoid traveling to capital Kabul, the eastern city where the U.S. Embassy is situated, for travel purposes. The two regions are separated by a distance of 640 kilometers.
Also, it extends U.S. diplomatic interests and services to this remote part of Afghanistan.
by RTT Staff Writer
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